A.E. Housman and the transience of life

 

Walking in the Fr√§nkischer Schweiz on Good Friday I saw some lovely cherry trees all ‘hung with bloom’, which brought to mind the very apt words of Housman:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

I couldn’t help but sing the wonderful Butterworth setting as we walked along, for the first time really letting the words take full effect; fifty Springs are indeed little room to look at things in bloom.

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